Craving touch? Find yourself a Cuddle Party

Cuddle Parties are a non-sexual way “for adults to get together to explore affectionate touch and communication,” says the group’s co-founder

At a Cuddle Party, you’re invited to stroke, nuzzle and caress your fellow party-goers. But keep your PJs on and remember: no sex and no dry-humping.
At a Cuddle Party, you’re invited to stroke, nuzzle and caress your fellow party-goers. But keep your PJs on and remember: no sex and no dry-humping.
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“Do you want to be the big spoon or the little spoon?”

This question may seem bizarre to most of us, but not to a guest at a Cuddle Party.

At a Cuddle Party, you are invited to stroke, nuzzle and caress your fellow party-goers, so long as you keep your PJs on and follow the strict no-sex-and-no-dry-humping rules.

These touchy-feely get-togethers are a way “for adults to get together and explore affectionate touch and communication without it becoming sexualized,” said Cuddle Party founder Reid Mihalko, 36, on cuddleparty.com.

The Cuddle Party phenomenon began in New York City, but the movement has spread to Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles and to two cities in Alabama.

Cuddle Parties in Toronto, held in a workshop space on Harbord Street near Spadina Avenue, are the only formal Cuddle Parties that take place outside the United States.

So what exactly goes on at a Cuddle Party?

Cecilia Hoorcrof, the facilitator of Toronto’s Cuddle Party chapter, said ten to 20 people attend the parties, which last for about three and a half hours.

“Most [of the parties] are gender balanced,” Hoorcrof said. “We’ve had people [who] range in age from 20 all the way to 68, but most people who are coming are between the ages of 20 to 40.”

A typical Toronto Cuddle Party follows the structure outlined by Mihalko and his cuddle party co-founder, Marcia Baczynsk.

First on the cuddling agenda is the Welcome Circle, used for introductions, questions and establishing the 15 cuddle rules. These guidelines are followed at every Cuddle Party and range from “be hygienically savvy” to “crying and giggling are both welcomed and encouraged.” The Welcome Circle activities always include a “No” exercise, which involves one cuddler asking “May I kiss you?” and another responding “No,” regardless of their own desires.

“This exercise allows for the establishment of cuddle boundaries, and lets you know that nothing is going to happen that you don’t want to happen,” Hoorcrof said.

After the Welcome Circle, party attendees are free to cuddle, chat or simply sit on the sidelines. Touching between cuddlers ranges from holding hands to spooning.

Kissing is permitted, as long as verbal permission is granted. Each cuddle session ends with a “puppy pile”: Attendees are invited to climb on top of each other and form a heap of bodies reminiscent of a litter of puppies.

“At first I was terrified,” Hoorcrof said of her initial cuddle party experience. “But the Welcome Circle made me feel more comfortable. [Cuddle parties] spoke to what I had been feeling in my life, which was a lack of touch.”

Cuddle Parties are not about sex, even though they’ve been criticized for their orgy-esque qualities, Hoorcrof said. “The way that it’s designed is not about squashing sexual energy. Touch can be arousing,” said Hoorcrof. “But we follow the cuddle party ‘swim buddy’ system. If the sexual energy gets too high and people start dry-humping, I will ring a bell three times.

“Then people have to find their ‘swim buddy’ and put their hands in the air. It’s a foolproof system,” Hoorcrof said with a laugh, adding that she has never had to ring the bell at a Toronto Cuddle Party.

“It’s really not weird. People get hung up on the idea that they don’t want to cuddle with strangers, but by the end of the Welcome Circle, they’re not strangers anymore,” Hoorcrof said.

“It’s just a more unusual way to socialize with people.”

As a testament to the intimacy created at Cuddle Parties, Hoorcrof said 12 party-goers went out for coffee after her last party.

But for Hoorcrof, Cuddle Parties are about much more than finding a date.

“Cuddle Parties are a space where my ‘no’ will be respected,” she said. “It’s a space where I can ask for what I want. It’s relaxing and wonderful. It’s about exploring all the different ways that we touch each other.”

For more information, please see cuddleparty.com

Cuddle Party Rules

1. Pajamas stay on the whole time.

2. No sex. (Yep, you read that right.)

3. a) Kissing and nuzzling, as well as other forms of touch, are allowed, but you must ask permission and receive a verbal ‘Yes’ before you touch anyone.
b) You don't have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.

4.If you're a yes, say ‘Yes.’ If you're a no, say ‘No.’

5. If you're a maybe, say ‘No.’

6. You are encouraged to change your mind from a yes to a no, no to a yes anytime you want.

7. No dry-humping!

8. If you're in a relationship, communicate and set your boundaries and agreements before you go to the Cuddle Party. Don't renegotiate those agreements/boundaries during the Cuddle Party. (Trust us on this one.)

9. Get your Cuddle Lifeguard On Duty or Cuddle Caddy if there's a concern, problem or question or should you feel unsafe or need assistance with anything during the Cuddle Party.

10. Crying and giggling are both welcomed and encouraged.

11. Please be respectful of other people's privacy when sharing with the outside world about Cuddle Parties, and do not gossip.

12. Arrive on time.

13. Be hygienically savvy.

14. Keep the cuddle space tidy and pick up after yourself.

15. Always say ‘thank you’ and practice good Cuddle Manners.

—Source: cuddleparty.com

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